Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The Twentieth Century Invention of Ancient Mountains: The Archaeology of Highland Aspromonte

Robb, John; Chesson, Meredith S.; Forbes, Hamish; Foxhall, Lin; Foxhall-Forbes, Helen; Lazrus, Paula Kay; Michelaki, Kostalena; Chiodo, Alfonso Picone; Yoon, David

The Twentieth Century Invention of Ancient Mountains: The Archaeology of Highland Aspromonte Thumbnail


John Robb

Meredith S. Chesson

Hamish Forbes

Lin Foxhall

Helen Foxhall-Forbes

Paula Kay Lazrus

Kostalena Michelaki

Alfonso Picone Chiodo

David Yoon


The high mountains of the Mediterranean are often considered as refuges of ancient traditions, particularly of pastoralism and brigandage. Is this image true? This paper reports the first systematic archaeological research on Aspromonte, Southern Calabria. Archaeological, cartographic and air photo evidence suggests that people used the high mountains in all periods from the Neolithic onwards. However, early usage was lowintensity and probably for special purposes such as iron-smelting, charcoal-burning and logging; only in the Classical Greek period was there sustained effort at inhabiting higher areas. The real development of the mountains came in the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries. From the 1920s onwards, there were large-scale, state-fostered projects for economic exploitation of forests, political control of territory, and creation of a recreational landscape. These endeavors tied into modernist ideas of the state, as well as period concepts such as Alpinism and healthy outdoor recreation for city dwellers. Ironically, as soon as these modern efforts made the high mountains accessible, they were assigned a chronotope, and were reimagined as the exemplification of an ancient way of life.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date May 12, 2020
Publication Date 2021-03
Deposit Date May 27, 2020
Publicly Available Date May 27, 2020
Journal International Journal of Historical Archaeology
Print ISSN 1092-7697
Electronic ISSN 1573-7748
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 1
Pages 14-44
Public URL


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (9.7 Mb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
Advance online version This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

You might also like

Downloadable Citations